From criminal justice to coaching basketball: Panthers’ assistant coach gives ‘back to the community’

Women’s basketball assistant coach Keunta Miles directs the team during a drill at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. (Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

By Cristhian Plasencia/Asst. Sports Director



FIU’s assistant coach for the women’s basketball team saw crime luring in her neighborhood, which subsequently sparked her interest to get involved with the youth in her community.

“I grew up in a place where you looked around, and there were drugs being sold, or crimes happening in that community,” said assistant coach Keunta Miles. “It’s always been an interest of mine, in how can I give back to the community. One of those ways was working with the youth.”

Growing up, Miles watched TV crime shows with her mother which inspired her to pursue a career in criminal justice.

In her young days, Miles lived in Franklin Park, Ft. Lauderdale. She played AAU basketball for the Hollywood Eagles under Coach Richard Walker.

The Broward native went on to play four years at UCF. In her senior year, the forward led her team in rebounds with 6.8 rebounds per game. She ranked second amongst her teammates in scoring 11.7 points per game.

Miles made the Atlantic Sun and Conference USA All-Academic Teams and earned her criminal justice bachelor’s degree in 2017.

“When I graduated from UCF, I applied for a corrections officer position, right after I graduated in May,” said Miles. “Went through the summer, I didn’t hear anything back.”

During April, she attended Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA): So You Want to be a Coach program. It took place at the 2007 Women’s Final Four in Cleveland, OH. The purpose of the program is to assist female basketballs who want to pursue a career in coaching.

Miles placed her CV on a resume board at the event, and randomly a former FSU basketball coach walked by and saw her resume. She immediately called North Florida, knowing they were looking for an assistant coach.
Coach Theresa Gernatt recommended Miles for the vacant job at North Florida.

Gernatt watched Miles UCF career closely, while she was the assistant coach for FSU, but she met Miles back from her AAU basketball days.

“She called Coach Walker and said, hey is KeKe still working for you? She wanted to know if I was still interested in coaching,” said Miles.

At the time, the future assistant coach for North Florida worked with Walker working with five through seven-year-olds at a summer camp at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Hollywood, FL.

Once she got hired by North Florida, the correctional office she applied for responded back with a phone call, to come in for an interview in Miami. She started her coaching career and declined to be interviewed.

Miles spent eight years as the North Florida women’s basketball team’s assistant coach, and In 2013, she earned a master’s in education with a concentration in athletic administration at North Florida.

“It was a learning experience because when you’re a player, you don’t actually know how much work your coaches are doing,” said Miles. “There’s a lot of administration work and putting the system into place.”

Miles joined FIU’s staff in May 2015 under Head Coach Marlin Chinn. She continues to be an essential asset to FIU’s women’s basketball program, in recruiting and improving post players to their max potential.

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